The Texas Strangers No More
I know they have 20 sacrifice bunts, 78 stolen bases and a committment to try and manufacture runs this season, but in the end - same as it ever was - seems the Rangers' offense is predicated on one big swing. Or, as was the case in last night's 6-3 win over the Red Sox, lots of them.
On the heels of snapping a four-game losing streak thanks to Ian Kinsler's bookend homers Sunday against Minnesota, the Rangers went deep three times in the 6th inning last night. Pitching and defense have led to Texas to this point, but it's clear now that in an uncharacteristically inept offensive season the only way to an AL West title is through slugging.
The Rangers, who have hit around .230 the last month, still manage to lead the AL with 139 homers. How reliant are they on the dinger? Of their last 34 runs, 26 have come as a result of a homer.
In other words, status quo.
The Rangers have always been synonymous with the homer. First game ever at old Arlington Stadium I watched Frank Howard whistle one out to center field. Hank Blalock in the All-Star Game. Josh Hamilton in the Home Run Derby. It's their specialty.
George Gervin can finger roll. Kim Kardashian has the ass. Fritz Von Erich had the Iron Claw. The Texas Rangers can go deep.
The Rangers, who set the AL record with seven 20-homer players in '05, are flirting with the mark for home homers. The '00 Blue Jays smacked 134 in Toronto. The Rangers have 76 in Arlington with 32 games remaining. They're also on pace to break the club record of 246 set in '03.
Usually it's just gaudy stats that amount to nothing more than, um, gaudy stats. But with a foundation of pitching and defense, the Rangers just might ride the homer into October.